The Griffin product was selected as both a wideout and punt returner on the preseason all-conference squad after a banner sophomore campaign that saw him earn First-Team All-GSC honors as a return specialist and second-team accolades as an all-purpose player. He was also named to the All-Region and All-American squad in 2011.
Appling already has four punt returns for a touchdown in his UWG career, including two against Arkansas-Monticello last season in the Wolves’ 21-5 victory. Appling electrified University Stadium with an 83-yard punt return for a score in the second quarter and put the exclamation point on the triumph with an 87-yard return to paydirt in the third quarter.
Appling also scored the Wolves’ first touchdown of the 2011 season on a punt return against Tusculum. He averaged 43.8 yards per punt return last season and 20 yards per return on kickoffs. He was also the Wolves’ leading receiver with 22 receptions for 398 yards and three touchdowns, giving him seven scores on the year in 2011.
Tight end Daniel Youssif was the only other UWG offensive player to earn preseason all-conference accolades. The Clinton Township, Mich., native had a pair of catches last season and the senior is expected to have a breakout year in 2012.
Defensively, a pair of seniors and a sophomore earned their way onto the preseason all-conference list. Senior defensive lineman Juan Pickett has been a force on the UWG front for three seasons and is the Wolves’ returning leader in tackles with 48 last season. A native of Columbus, Pickett had three tackles for a loss, three quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries in 2011.
Cornerback Kelly Dawsey, a senior from Valdosta, has been on the field in a significant role in each of his first three seasons in Carrollton, and in his final year earned recognition from GSC coaches in their annual preseason vote. He had 30 tackles a year ago, with 4.5 tackles for a loss. He had one interception last season, coming in the Wolves’ triumph over top-ranked Delta State to end the season.
The final UWG member of the 2012 Preseason All-GSC squad is sophomore linebacker Teddy Lawrence, who had 38 tackles a season ago, earning Gulf South Conference Freshman of the Year honors. The Rome native had 2.5 tackles for a loss and one interception that he returned for a touchdown.
The Wolves were picked to finish fifth in the league standings by the GSC coaches, receiving one third-place vote and three fourth-place votes. Valdosta State narrowly edged out West Alabama as the league favorite, while Delta State was tabbed third and North Alabama fourth.
West Georgia opens the 2012 season at home on Sept. 1 against Point University, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. This marks the second time that the Wolves have hosted the season opener for University Stadium in the four-year history of the facility. UWG players report to campus next week.